“The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures. They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus.” 4:13
These chapters are so encouraging! I love that Luke notes that Peter and John were ordinary. Not trained. Just submitting to the Holy Spirit. Someone, at some point, who I can’t remember right now, possibly C.S. Lewis, pointed out that Christianity is the only recorded “following” that didn’t scatter after their leader was killed. Instead, it exploded in numbers. For hundreds of years. This has little to do with the followers and everything to do with the power of Christ residing in them through the Holy Spirit.
Honestly, the part of these chapters that truly exemplifies the power of the Spirit to me is when it says the believers were united in heart and mind and they felt that what they owned was not their own, so they shared everything they had (4:32). Miraculous hearings of physical problems are AMAZING and I believe God is capable and willing to perform them today. But healings of the heart? This is a little trickier and it drops my jaw.
Excuse my cynicism and pardon the chip on my shoulder, but this doesn’t always happen among believers. Churches come and go. Leaders rise and fall. We fight on Facebook. We rival with other churches and denominations. We clutch our money. We compare ministries. We buy into Satan’s biggest scheme of all time and turn on each other to fight the wrong battle, all while the world around us watches.
There’s a common expectation among new believers that their initial zeal and eagerness will eventually fade. Some of it is true, as you balance out your faith with your life (or when you read Ecclesiastes for the first time). But I’ve seen it be sustained. My friend Chris lives his life like it’s the day he got baptized, seizing every opportunity with every person he passes to share the gospel. I could list a handful of friends in my life who generously share their time, resources and space effortlessly and constantly.
The lifestyle of the early church wasn’t a novelty; it was an example.
“There were no needy people among them”, it reads. I love when I see my church community live this out by providing meals, planning baby showers or gathering belongings for each other. It’s a perfectly tangible way to be the church. (Community outreach is a soapbox for another day.)
Today I’m asking myself: by the way I respond to the gospel, handle my money, possessions and time, can people recognize that I’ve been with Jesus?